According to the sentiment expressed near the end of Maggie Ginsberg-Schutz's investigation into the realm of cooperatives, the U.S. is on the verge of a cooperative explosion, occasioned by the breakdown of the capitalist system and the current economic malaise. That could be correct.
But it's not very likely, given the huge advantage capitalism has in this country as an economic system and political philosophy. Not to mention the antipathy in the body politic toward anything that can be labeled "socialism," even in the most vague sense. That does not mean Ginsberg-Schutz is incorrect when she pinpoints Madison as one of the more hospitable spots for co-ops in the country. Indeed, Wisconsin as a whole, with its socialist precedents and German heritage, has long been a redoubt of the cooperative way of doing things. And though I wouldn't call the Green Bay Packers exactly a cooperative, they do have an ownership scheme so democratic that it is banned from replication in the National Football League by the mountainous egos of the other 31 owners.
Worker cooperatives are enjoying a growing season, in no small part due to the credit reticence being exhibited these days by many banks toward small businesses. (See "When the Home Bank Closes," on page one of Wednesday's Wall Street Journal.) But it's those very banks, with their varied scale and ubiquity in our economic life, that guarantee capitalism as the economic basis of the U.S. Still, cooperatives are finding increased viability as the country seeks to rebuild from the recent economic disruption.
Meanwhile, Isthmus has a cooperative project of its own under way. It's called The Book of Love, and it comes out next week with your cooperation, in time for Valentine's Day. You have until this Sunday evening to enter your love notes and images for inclusion in print and online. Just go to TheDailyPage.com/bookoflove. Read and comply with the requirements. Your cooperation will be appreciated.